IRS Operations and COVID-19

April 15, 2020 | Article

By Ben Peeler and Elyse Katz

The IRS, like many, has had their operations affected by COVID-19. Recently, the IRS released the following information in relation to their operations:

“In careful accordance with current state and local guidelines, we are taking the next steps to reopen additional operations in:

  • Georgia and Tennessee beginning June 15
  • Missouri and Michigan beginning June 15
  • Indiana and Ohio beginning June 29
  • California, Puerto Rico, Oregon beginning June 29”

These include key processing centers, notice print facilities and call center operations. The IRS will continue to focus on nonportable work.

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What Does This Mean for My Tax Return?
The IRS continues to process electronic tax returns even though the deadline has been extended to July 15, 2020. Direct deposits of refunds will continue, and the IRS will accept electronic payments.

Paper tax returns and paper correspondence will not be processed until the service centers can reopen at full capacity.

Additionally, the IRS announced that later this summer taxpayers will for the first time be able to file their Form 1040-X, Amended U.S Individual Income Tax Return electronically using available tax software products.

For Tax Practitioners
The IRS Practitioner Priority Service is open along with Automatic Collection Services. Select PPS staff from the individual, business, and collection lines are available to answer questions and provide transcripts. Some functions are still limited that would generate notices such as abatements or moving of funds. They are not forwarding power of attorney forms (POAs) to the Centralized Authorization File (CAF) Unit at this time.

Some former paper filing submissions can now be sent by fax on a form-by-form basis, for instance, private letter ruling submissions and requests for advice can now be submitted by fax.

What About the Taxpayer Advocate Service?
Additionally, we are working with The Taxpayer Advocate Service as they are still operating, and we are utilizing them regularly. Once form 911 is submitted for help, a representative will reach within a few days. It’s important to get TAS involved now as they will continuously and automatically follow up to resolve IRS matters. Don’t wait until the IRS is operating at full capacity to resolve the situation because they will be extremely inundated and wait times will be lengthy. Be proactive and get a jump start on these issues now, otherwise it might be lost in the shuffle.

What Does This Mean for Me?
All other main IRS hotlines are closed but, if you have a current examination or collection process in which you are working directly with IRS personnel, you will still be able to speak with them. The IRS is being more lenient with their procedures and it’s actually a good time to move forward and wrap up outstanding examinations or collection issues.

Most of the IRS workforce is now on telework and are still working mission-critical cases. For examinations, the IRS cannot enforce information document requests or summons and are instructed not to start new examinations where permitted.

Keep in mind that if you finalize an exam, issue, or a claim for refund, the case will be closed but it will not be sent to Centralized Case Processing for official posting due to operations being closed. We estimate CCP to start posting and processing these cases mid-to end of July.

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